When Ryan Jackson was younger, he wanted to be one of two things; either a teacher or a DOC Ranger. Tricky choice. Ryan is now eight years into his teaching career, but his passion for the environment, particularly Climate Change action, is still very much at the fore in his work with young people, and his personal choices and beliefs.
Understanding the impact of collective action and the wish to give his time to something he cared deeply about, Ryan discovered 350 Aotearoa in 2020. 350 Aotearoa is the New Zealand Arm of the international grassroots climate movement 350.org, which aims to unite the world around climate change solutions. Inspired by the grassroots, practical approach of the movement, and with support and encouragement (plus a bit of arm twisting), Ryan helped to found 350 Te Papaioea, a small but growing rōpū of climate justice activists in the Manawatū that was established at the beginning of 2022. Ryan notes, for many, the confusion over what 350 means in the context of climate change "350 is the number that scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere- measured as parts per million – 350ppm" he helpfully explains.
Currently, there are five people involved in the group, "We would love more people to get involved," Ryan notes, but it has punched well above its weight since, in the conversations and action, it has been inspiring. In 2022 the group submitted to Horizons Regional Council on their 10-year transport plan and presented a petition signed by 360 people to Palmerston North City council strongly encouraging them to investigate solar panels on their public buildings and help to address energy poverty with incentives for insulation and affordable heating. The dedication and time worked on both counts, Horizons looking to be more ambitious in their transport targets and PNCC passing a desktop analysis for potential solar panels on their buildings. However, he says "the fight is not won, and we will be keeping a close eye on the Council and the actual progress they make with solar panels in our community."
This year's focus for 350 Te Papaioea will be linked to the national 350 Aotearoa campaign on Homegrown Energy- encouraging New Zealand to 100% renewable energy resources and addressing energy poverty for those who "fall through the gaps" with current government incentives.